need constant repetition. You believe this every time you hit me.
Once, you dove through ice to prove what you’d do
for your family. What would I do for my family?
What I ask from disappearance is that I don’t have to do it again.
What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?
To be called emerging is a type of naming, and the exercise of naming, of categorization, of taxonomy, is also a performance of power. An emerging poet is only emerging to those who call them as such. Emerging poets always are the ones with potential. Interchangeable, never fully formed, the next one always available to be discovered.
Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?
No, I am not emerging for anyone. I do, however, like the idea of getting to be known, becoming familiar.
What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?
The poetry community is made of all these shape-shifting circles of commitments—commitments of certain politics to certain economics to certain friendships. What it takes to be “recognized” in each of these communities seems deeply enmeshed in what values build them in the first place. At best, to be recognized is to have done the work of reproducing your community, whatever that work is. At best, the work of your community is to help you recognize yourself.
How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?
I think politics in general shape the poetry community: politics shape access to material resources, time, potential, and authority to call someone emerging. They are small and large negotiations we make daily in communicating with each other. They affect our stylistic choices. They affect how we read different styles of poetry under different types of names. But most of all, they shape whose names and work are repeated and reproduced. The thing about repetition is that it makes certain ideas—and people—feel more real than others.
What does community mean to you?
A community is where one chooses to practice living, the people with whom we practice recognizing and creating abundance.
YANYI is a poet and critic based in Brooklyn, New York. He is a 2017-2018 Asian American Writers Workshop Margins Fellow and contributing editor at Foundry. He formerly served as Director of Technology and Design at The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, senior editor at Nat. Brut, and curatorial assistant at The Poetry Project. The recipient of a 2015 Emerging Poets Fellowship from Poets House, Yanyi's poems and criticism have appeared in Model View Culture, cellpoems, The Cortland Review, and DIARY, chaplet #193 at Belladonna* Collaborative.